The Golden Retriever is one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States. The breed's friendly, tolerant attitude makes them great family pets, and their intelligence makes them very capable working dogs.
Golden Retrievers excel at retrieving game for hunters, tracking, tracking contraband for law enforcement, and as therapy and service dogs. They are also natural athletes and do well in dog sports such as agility and competitive obedience.
For many years, legend had it that Golden Retrievers descended from Russian shepherd dogs bought from a circus. In fact, the breed was developed in Scotland, on the Highland estate of Sir Dudley Majoribanks, later known as Lord Tweedmouth.
Tweedmouth, like many nobles of his day, bred animals of all kinds and tried to perfect different breeds. Tweedmouth's breeding records from 1835 to 1890 show what he was aiming for with the Golden: A talented retriever - Tweedmouth was an avid waterfowl hunter - with an excellent nose, which would be more attentive to its human hunting companion than the setters and spaniels used for retrieving at the time. He also wanted the dog to be loyal and quiet in the house.
Tweedmouth took Nous to Scotland, and in 1868 and 1871, he bred with Belle, a Tweed Water Spaniel. Tweed Water Spaniels (now extinct) were known to be eager retrievers in the hunting field, and exceptionally calm and loyal at home - traits found in today's Golden Retrievers.
Nousand Belle's offspring were bred with Wavy and Flat-coated retrievers, another Tweed Water Spaniel, and a red setter. Tweedmouth kept mostly the yellow pups to continue his breeding programme, and gave others away to friends and relatives.
Not surprisingly, Tweedmouth's breed first attracted attention for their hunting skills. One of the most famous was Don of Gerwyn, a liver-coloured descendant of one of Tweedmouth's dogs, who won the International Gundog League trial in 1904.
A sweet, calm character is the hallmark of the breed. The Golden was bred to work with people and to please its owner. Although it has a good disposition, the Golden, like all dogs, must be raised and trained to make the most of its heritage.
Elbow dysplasia (disorder of the elbow)
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